War in Libya cost United States US$896 million


The United States has spent US$896 million on the war in Libya up until July 31, according to a Pentagon report.

Much of the money went to day-to-day military operations (such as fuel, maintenance expenses), weapons and humanitarian aid. The US has also pledged US$25 million to assist the Libyan Transitional National Council, although half of this has already been spent on prepared meals.

In May the US military delivered 120 000 meals to Benghazi and another shipment in June involved medical supplies, tents, boots, uniforms and protective gear. The U.S. military has not provided weapons or other “lethal” support to Libyan rebels, officials said.

Offsetting some of the cost of operations was the sale of hardware to allies, who have been running short of weapons to use over Libya. Between the start of the NATO operation in March and up to last Friday, the Pentagon has sold US$221.9 million worth of ammunition, spare parts and fuel to allies.

The costs show no sign of coming down, as the US stepped up airstrikes as rebels made their final push into Tripoli earlier this week. On Monday the Pentagon said there were a total of 38 air strikes from August 10 to August 22, or an average of just over three a day. That compares to a total of 224 strikes from April 1 to August 10, an average of just over one and a half a day. There have been a total of 101 Predator strikes since April, with 17 of them since August 10.

From April 1 to August 22, the US has flown 5 316 sorties over Libya, including 1 210 strike sorties that dropped ordnance on 262 occasions. Unmanned Predator drones flew 101 strikes up to Monday.

The Libyan conflict has cost far more than expected as it has dragged on for six months – US President Barack Obama originally said American involvement would only last a few days. The drawn-out conflict has also put strain on other nations. For instance, early last month French Budget Minister Valerie Pecresse said the French military mission in Libya had cost 160 million euros.

France has spearheaded the NATO-led campaign in Libya and symbolically launched the first air strikes against troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in March.